Despite the refusal of the Polish Embassy in Nigeria to issue entry visa to Nigeria’s contingent to the World Relays starting on Saturday in Silesia, Poland, the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development and the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) have moved to ensure Nigeria qualifies for the five relay events at the Tokyo Olympics.
According to the media department of the ministry, a number of athletics meetings have been secured in the United States of America while a five-nation relay meeting is also on the card to hold in Nigeria before the window for qualification closes on June 29, 2021.
It further stated that only top 16 relay teams/ times will participate at the Tokyo Olympics noting that the Ministry is properly guided and that Team Nigeria is not in any jeopardy.
Both the Sports Ministry and the AFN had anticipated that the disgraced former president of the AFN, Shehu Ibrahim Gusau would block the registration of Nigerian athletes for the event as he illegally held on to the official password of the federation and moved to organise a few meetings in the USA to ensure the teams get the chance to still qualify for the Olympics.
The AFN led by acting president, Olamide George was only availed the opportunity to register the team following the intervention of the two-man Confederation of African Athletics team that came to Abuja last week to resolve the conflict within the AFN.
“We did not get to officially register the team until Thursday last week and apply for entry visas at the Polish Embassy. Upon our application, the Polish Embassy insisted it would take two weeks to process the visa applications and all entreaties for a quick consideration were ignored,” said Niyi Beyioku, the AFN Secretary General.
“The Sports Minister, Sunday Dare had to involve the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to ensure we get the team visas to Poland but the embassy stood its ground and we, after consultations with the Sports Ministry decided to switch to our second plan which was to convert a pre-arranged training tour to include qualification for the five relay events. The AFN wants to assure Nigerians that our relay teams will be in Tokyo come this July,” said Beyioku.